Fred Taylor could join an elite club of rushers early in the 2007 season, and only one of the men in that club who has reached Hall of Fame eligibility hasn't been elected.
"The Hall of Fame is so far from my mind," Taylor said when the subject was broached at a press conference on Saturday afternoon. "That's not relevant," he added.
Taylor will take 9,513 career rushing yards into the start of the '07 season. Ten thousand yards rushing has long been a standard for Hall of Fame consideration. Ottis Anderson (10,273), who is 20th on the all-time rushing list and directly ahead of Taylor, is the only running back to have rushed for 10,000 yards, reached eligibility and not been elected to the Hall of Fame.
The 10,000-yard standard, however, is likely to be raised several thousand yards, the result of a new wave of high-yardage rushers. There are three running backs in the 10,000-yard club who are still active. Curtis Martin is the number four all-time rusher with 14,101 yards. Corey Dillon is 14th with 11,241 and Edgerrin James is 19th with 10,385. Warrick Dunn is only 52 yards behind Taylor.
"I do know that I need about 400 yards to reach that goal," Taylor said of 10,000 yards. "It should've happened last year. I'll get 10,000 this year and then I want to push it up more and more."
Taylor recently met O.J. Simpson, the 15th all-time leading rusher. "He told me he admired my game," Taylor said. "The satisfaction I get is the respect I get from my peers. In my mind, I feel like I'm a Pro Bowl-caliber player."
Taylor knows that without Pro-Bowl and Super Bowl fame, he'll have to push his career rushing yardage into the Martin neighborhood to have any chance of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
"I'm going to play my deal out. They've given me an opportunity to finish here. This year and three more years after that," Taylor said when asked how much longer he intends to play.
He wouldn't rule out catching Martin, even though Taylor would have to rush for more than 1,000 yards a year for each of the next four seasons, provided Martin doesn't push his total much higher. This will be Taylor's 10th pro season.
What about winning a Super Bowl? Winning a Super Bowl MVP, of course, usually favors Hall of Fame election. It worked for John Riggins, the 13th all-time rusher with 11,352 yards.
"It can be done," Taylor said. "I think we have good enough coaches and players. Maybe if we had gotten (into the playoffs) last year we would've done it.
"That's a team in our division; a team we physically beat down," Taylor added of the Super Bowl-champion Colts. "I'm a little bit jealous."